David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday

This is a photograph of my maternal grandparents, Leland and Gladys Marling Norris at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration on April 30, 1970. They were married in Elkhart, Indiana in a small family ceremony and they raised 6 children in Dayton, Ohio. My grandfather passed away in March, 1978 and my grandmother followed him in August, 1984. After her death, my mother presented me with a small box that contained the top of their anniversary cake. It has it's own special place in my curio cabinet and it will always be one of my treasures.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Little Julia Swadner



This is the gravesite of Julia Ann Swadener, daughter of Caroline Routsong and Samuel Swadner of Van Buren Township, (now Kettering) Montgomery County, Ohio. It is located in David's Cemetery.

She died August 12, 1856 at the tender age of 4 years, 25 days.

The inscription states "Ere sin could blight or sorrow faid
Death came with friendly care.
The opening bud to Heaven convaid
And bade it blossom there."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Black Sheep Sunday - Daniel Walker


If anyone counts as a "Black Sheep" it's my husband's 5th great grandfather, Daniel Walker.

Daniel was born in either Virginia or Kentucky; the actual date of his birth is unknown. At some point, he was married to Elizabeth (Betsy) Cox the daughter of John and Susannah Cox of Floyd County, Kentucky. Daniel and Elizabeth had 3 children, John, the oldest, William, born in 1803 and Elizabeth. When John and Susannah become aged, they asked Daniel and Elizabeth to take care of them and in turn, when they died, Daniel and Elizabeth would be the heirs to their estate.

However, it seems that John and Susannah were living a bit too long and Daniel became impatient. He plotted with John Young, the husband of one of Elizabeth's nieces, to kill John and Susannah and therefore, speed the process of the inheritance along. In early 1823, Daniel lured John and Susannah into a field, telling them that he was going to cut down a tree. They sat down on a log and Susannah leaned forward, possibly to light her pipe and shield it from the wind. At just that moment, shots rang out and John was hit. Because she had leaned forward, Susannah escaped death. John lived for 15 hours before succumbing to his injuries. Daniel, Elizabeth, their son, John, and John Young were all arrested for the murder, however John Young turned states evidence and was acquitted for his role in the event. Elizabeth and John were found innocent, but Daniel was found guilty. On May 28, 1823, he was hanged for murder.

Daniel and Elizabeth's son, William, had married Jane Holt, daughter of Nathan Holt and Martha Denney on 9 January, 1823, the same day his sister, Elizabeth, had married Jane's brother, William Holt. Both couples moved to Adams County, Ohio and eventually settled in Scioto County, Ohio. William died of smallpox in Jefferson County, KY on 8 January, 1862 during his service in the Civil War.
Pictured is the will of John Cox

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Art of the Handwritten Letter


A little while ago, I was admiring the vintage postcards on the web page of footnoteMaven . I love looking at the romantic artwork and reading any of the messages that might remain on the back. They are truly a gifts from the past. I would have to say that of all the documents and various items I have in my family history files, the hand written letters and legal papers are my favorite. This letter from my grandfather, Leland Norris, written in his own hand, from training camp at Camp Sheridan during World War I, is one of my treasures. Reading what was happening to him there, in his own words and seeing his handwriting is priceless to me.
I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness when I think about the lack of letter writing these days. Text messages and email have virtually eliminated the days of long handwritten letters to loved ones. I love the ability to contact people immediately and to share so much of our daily lives, but the art of letter writing, I fear, is being lost forever. Maybe we should all make it a rule to hand write at least a couple of letters a year and put them away for our grandchildren in the future. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Christmas, 1968


This photograph does require some comment! This is my grandmother, Imogene Huffman Shoemaker and her grandchildren at my house on Christmas Day, 1968. She is sitting by the Magnus Chord Organ that my mom and dad had given to her for Christmas. They were very popular back in the 1960's and 1970's. My mom still has this organ in her basement. Hanging in the window is a snowman that my mom made using paper plates! The Santa mugs on the shelf had my brothers names painted on the front. I loved them so much, I found some matching ones for my own children.
My oldest brother, Rick, has his arm in a sling due to a dislocated shoulder that he sustained while playing basketball. It became a kind of joke in the family that each year in the Christmas pictures, Rick had some type of injury. For a couple of years, it was a dislocated shoulder. One year he had a big bandage over his eye from a cut that he sustained while playing basketball. I am wearing a blonde wig that was one of my presents. Why on earth I wanted that thing, I will never know, but I thought I was "IT". I am also holding a handkerchief in my hand because on Christmas Day, I was almost always sick with some kind of cold! I guess it's appropriate that I have a picture of it. The little boy in front of me is my cousin, Kevin, and his brother, Mark is wearing the blue shirt directly behind my grandma. My brother, Brian is wearing the long sleeve yellow shirt. Okay, so this isn't so "wordless". Sorry!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Advent Calendar - December 22, 2009


Today's post is a response to the Geneabloggers.com Advent Calendar prompt which asks, Christmas and Deceased Relatives
Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?


When I was a child, I don't remember visiting the cemetery at Christmas. We usually took my grandmother to place flowers on the gravesite of my great grandmother around Memorial Day, but for the most part, the only time I stepped foot into any cemetery was for a funeral service. I guess most people don't enjoy being in one unless they absolutley have to. Up until a few years ago, I had no idea how many of my ancestors burial places are located in David's Cemetery in Kettering. Once I began my research, I "found" them and I have been visting them regularly ever since.
But, Christmastime visits became more important after my grandparents passed away and especially after my father went home to Heaven almost 17 years ago. The cemetery provides the service of allowing the purchase of Christmas wreaths that are placed on the gravesites on December 1st. A few years ago, they began the practice of placing over 4,000 luminaries throughout the cemetery grounds on Christmas Eve. They begin at 5:00 pm and are kept lit until midnight, weather permitting. I can't tell you how beautiful it is or what an incredibly peaceful feeling it gives me to go to the cemetery on that night. It's not that I believe that my loved ones remain in the cemetery, but being there gives me the freedom to stop and remember and shed a few tears as I think about all the wonderful Christmases I spent with them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Finding Phillip Taylor in the Antique Store

This is a picture of a gentleman by the name of Phillip Taylor. He is not a member of my family, but he is one of the reasons why I love this journey I am taking through the world of genealogy.


I found him one day in a tiny antique store that was going out of business. My mother and I just happened to stop in one day because I had always wanted to browse through the place and I was disappointed to find out that they were closing up shop. There were a few boxes of photos there and as I looked through them I felt such sadness that these were people that belonged to someone. How excited I would be if someone discovered some photographs of my ancestors and could get them to me. I started trying to find any clues as to who these people could be. I didn't find anything until I discovered a small white book buried underneath a stack of photos. The title on the front of the book was "My Personal History and Family Record". When I opened the book, it appeared to be similar to the "Baby Books" that I had filled out for each of my children. It belonged to a man named Phillip Taylor and had been lovingly filled out in the hand of his mother. His family tree was handwritten inside, including birthdates and some death dates. His school history and military history was included. I kept wondering how anyone could have parted with this. As I moved forward through the book, I found Phillip's picture. He was now more than a name; he was a handsome man wearing a military uniform. I couldn't stand it. I had to try to reunite this book with someone who might have known him, or at least was researching this family. I paid for the book and headed home to see what I could find. At the time, I still had a temporary membership to one of the more popular websites and I started entering the information I had found within the pages of the book. There was Phillip. I discovered that he had died a few years before and he did have children, but he had been divorced several times. I started trying to find someone who might be researching his family and lo and behold, there were about three. I sent messages to all of them explaining what I had. I received a response from a gentleman in Arizona who was thrilled with my find. Phillip was a distant cousin. Eureka! It's just what I was looking for. I obtained the gentleman's address and Phillip's book was soon on it's way West from Ohio. The only thing that would have been better was if I found my own family member. For me, this is what it's all about. I kept a scan of Phillip's picture to remind me that there are many people out there that deserve to be remembered.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Calendar Christmas Shopping


I had to laugh when I saw today's Advent Calendar subject was Christmas shopping. A few days ago I was telling my sons about an incident that happened when I was just 4 years old, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Christmas, 1966 and it was still a big deal to go shopping in downtown Dayton. It was a Saturday afternoon and my parents were going to leave me with my grandparents and my older brothers while they went shopping. I wasn't used to being left at home and the thought of going "downtown" sounded like a great prospect. I really wanted to go and I can remember crying something awful! Mom and Dad decided to make a deal with me. I could go shopping with them, or I could have one of my Christmas presents now. Well, obviously the idea of getting a present "right now" outweighed the thought of going to a place that only might be fun. Of course, I decided that the present was the best choice. I tore into that wrapping paper with gusto and I wasn't disappointed! It was Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walkin' " LP. I certainly thought I was quite grown up and how I wanted a pair of boots like Nancy's! I have never been able to part with that album to this day. Isn't it funny the events that burn so deeply into our memories? I'm sure that my parents never thought that present was anything special, but I think about it often and it always makes me smile. By the way, I would still REALLY like to have those boots.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday

We don't have too many of what you would call "family heirlooms". We are lucky enough to have many precious photographs and I would like to share this one today on Treasure Chest Thursday. This is a photo of my grandfather, Leland V. Norris. I never saw this photo hanging on a wall when I was growing up. I suspect it was kept in the attic of the family house in Kettering, Ohio for all those years. You can't tell from this copy, but the picture is very large, almost a 16x20. It resides in a beautiful golden frame with the "bubble" glass lovingly protecting it. I believe he looks like he was about 2 years old here, thus dating the photo sometime around 1901. I love his beautiful blonde curls. It seems as a child, he was quite pampered! It truly is one of my "treasures".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

My Grandfather or Santa......not sure which one!

The Newspaper Article or Why I Love Curt Dalton


Curt Dalton is one of my heroes. If you live outside of the Dayton, Ohio area, you probably have never heard his name, but in the circle of those of love Dayton history, Curt is quite an icon. His official job is as visual resources coordinator for Dayton History, the official name of Dayton's historical society. However, he is also an author of several books about Dayton, as well as the creator of the website Dayton History Books Free Online (http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/index.html). You don't have to love Dayton, Ohio to love this site.


The first time I came into contact with Curt was through a series of resource books he created that I just happened to stumble upon while shopping one Christmas. They were in a group of books, thrown into a heap on a table at a discount bookstore. They didn't look like anything special. The covers looked like a strong construction paper with ink sketches and an inexpensive binding. I wasn't sure what they were at first, until I opened them up. On each page were names, listed alphabetically, along with dates and page numbers. They were resource books that someone named Curt Dalton had painstakingly created from Dayton newspapers and various other local publications. He had listed the names of those persons about whom articles had been written and photographs had been published. Not only that, he told me the name of the publication and page number where the information could be found. I think I made an audible gasp when I realized what I had in my hands! Quickly, I opened the books to look for Norris, Routsong, Swadner, Suman; the names of those branches of my family that were rooted early in Dayton. To my delight, there were several articles listing members of the Routsong family. I quickly picked up the rest of the books. There was only one copy of each book, and they were now going to belong to me!


My next step was the library. The Dayton-Montgomery County Public Library in downtown Dayton has a large local history room with microfilm copies of the publications to which Curt had referred. Armed with my new books, dates, and names, I headed for the librarian. I found several small articles, and some group pictures where it was hard to pick out my family member. However, there was truly one gem among them. On page 5 of The Dayton Daily News on 4 August, 1908, was a family photograph and story about my great great grandfather, Henry Mathias Routsong and his wife, Clarinda Swadner Routsong. My great grandmother, Elizabeth, was not in the picture, but her brother was. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.


Here is what the article said:

Eighty Four Years Old and Has Never Been on a Railroad Train


Representatives of four generations of the Routsong family were gathered Sunday at the home of Lester Routsong, Rural Route No. 2 on the Dayton and Lebanon Pike. In the party were the oldest representatives, H.M. Routsong and wife Mrs. Clarinda Routsong, aged respectively 84 and 82; their son, William A. Routsong, aged 56, their grandson, Lester Routsong, aged 30, and great-grandson, Harold Routsong, aged 8. This was the first occasion for the assembling of the entire family together for a number of years. H.M. Routsong, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Routsong, was born near Dayton and has lived on the same farm for the past 84 years. His parents came to Ohio when it was almost a backwoods, from Middletown, MD. Evidently, the family is what is commonly termed long-lived for he has two sisters, Mrs. Caroline Swadner and Mrs. Rebecca Emmert, who are aged 82 and 80 respectively. At the age of 26, he was married to Clarinda Swadner. Eight children were the result of this union, of which only three survive. For a man of his years, Mr. Routsong is most spry and active. He works daily on the farm. To rusticity and the quiet of farm life, Mr. Routsong is peculiarly wedded, and this same feeling has been instilled in most of his descendants. When a very young man he rode to Dayton to see the first train. While he has, of course, observed several trains since, he has never in his life ridden in a railroad coach. A conclusive proof of his unusual strength was demonstrated about 8 years ago when he was on the petit jury. During that time he made 37 trips to the city on foot.


This was just the jolt I needed to jumpstart my family history research. If this was here, what else was out there, just waiting for me to find it? I haven't stopped searching and it's because Curt Dalton cared about Dayton History enough to spend his valuable time creating that book for people like me, and that is why he is my hero!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Execution of Peter B. Suman








Researching your family tree is like (if I may quote Forrest Gump) a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get. That was certainly true in the case of my 5th great grandfather, Peter Balthasar Suman.
I discovered the Suman name in my family tree when I located the death certificate of my great great grandmother, Clarinda Swadner Routsong. Clarinda was the wife of Henry Routsong, who is pictured in my first post. According to the certificate, Clarinda's mother was Eleanor Suman, who was born in Maryland. I was excited to have a new name to research and it didn't take me long to find a Suman cousin named Ed who lived on the West coast and had done exhaustive research on the Suman family tree. He told me that Eleanor was the daughter of Jacob and Mary Templin Suman, who had migrated to Montgomery County, Ohio from Frederick County, Maryland around 1830. Many Frederick County families followed this same pathway to Ohio during the mid to late 1800's. He also informed me that Jacob's father, Peter, had been executed for treason on 17 August, 1781. Oh my gosh! I thought I had found the skeleton in the family closet. This required much further research. Peter was either a traitor or a martyr, depending upon which account of the story you chose to read. Most accounts seem to back up the martyr side of the story, however, and that's the side I choose to believe.



Peter Suman was born in Schriesheim, Germany on 17 May, 1730. At 19 years of age, he left Germany on the ship, "Dragon" with many other members of the Brethren society and followed Alexander Mack to Philadelphia. He arrived in Pennsylvania on 26 September, 1749. He settled in Northeast Lancaster County, PA because the Penn Company promised each settler 5 acres of free land if they cleared the land. At this time, he also married Eleanor Miller and together they cleared 10 acres of land. But, after all of this work, the Penn Company decided they would have to pay for the land anyway. This they either could not or would not do, so they had to leave their Pennsylvania home. They headed down the Monocacy Trail and settled in Frederick County, Maryland, in Burkittsville. Here they joined the congregation of the church now known as the Pleasant View Church of the Brethren.


When the Revolutionary War began, Peter, being a Brethren, did not believe in violence. This did not make him popular among many of the citizens of the Burkittsville area. According to the book, Brethren Society by Carl F. Bowman:
"When war broke out, Maryland was no longer hospitable. Those who refused to enroll in the
militia faced heavy fines, public embarrassment, and acts of vandalism"

Some stories will state that Peter, along with 6 others, actually did conspire to help English and Hessian prisoners escape the prison barracks and return to England. Most accounts, especially those regarding the history of the Brethren church, will tell you that Peter was a victim of prejudice and jealousy and that he was set up to be convicted of the crime in order that others could take over his land.

However, there is no doubt as to Peter's fate, and that of those who were convicted along with him on 25 July, 1781.


The Warrant of Execution read as follows: The sentence of the judge is as follows...It has been suggested to the court that not withstanding your Guilt has been ascertained by an Impartial jury, you consider the proceedings against you as nothing more than a mockery, and have adopted the Vain Idea, propegated by the Enemies of Your County that she dare not punish her unnatural subjects for engaging in the service of Great Britain. From the strange insensibility you have heretofore discovered, I have been forced to conclude that you are laboring under a Delusion which may prove fatal to your prospects of Future Happiness in the Hereafter.
The Crime of which you have been Convicted, upon the clearest and fullest evidence, is of such a Nature that you cannot and must not look for Pardon. Had it pleased Heaven to permit the Full Execution of your unnatural Designs, the Miseries to be experienced by your devoted country would have been dreadful even in the contemplation...
The Ends of Public Justice, the Dictates of policy, the feelings of Humanity, all require that you should serve as an awful Example to your Fellow-Subjects; and the Dignity of the State, with everything that can interest the Heart of Man, calls to the Heavens for your just punishment...
If the Consideration of approaching Fate can inspire proper Sentiments, you will pour forth your Thanks to that watchful rovidence, which has arrested you at an early stage of Guilt; and you will employ the short time you have to live in endeavoring by sincere Penitence to obtain Pardon from that Almighty Being who is to also sit in Judgement upon you, upon me, upon this faithful jury, and upon all mankind. I must now perform the painful Task of announcing the terrible Punishment ordained for High Treason....


You, (Peter Suman, Casper Fritchie, Henry Schell, Adam Graves, Yost Plecker, John George Graves, Nicholas Andrews) and each and every one of you, attend to your Sentence...

You shall be carried from this place to the Goal of Frederick County, and hence to the gallows of Fredericktown and be hanged thereon.

You shall be cut down to the Earth alive, and your Entrails shall be taken out and burnt while you are yet alive, your Head shall be cut off; your Body shall be divided into four Parts, and your Head and Quarters shall be placed where His Excellency - the governor - shall appoint for public exhibition. So God have Mercy upon your Poor Souls.



And on 17 August, 1781, Peter Suman, Casper Fritchie, and Yost Plecker were executed. Government accounts state that the three were only hanged, but the stories handed down through Brethren society say that they were quartered and their remains were hung on posts or fed to the dogs. The legend then tells of Eleanor and friends taking parts of the Peter's body and burying them at the Ausherman school. There are stories of members of the Brethren congregation keeping watch over the graves by lamplight to keep them from being desecrated.

The execution was so gruesome that many people began to complain bitterly to the authorities about the brutality and the remaining 4 men were not executed. To add to Eleanor's grief, at the time of Peter's conviction, Eleanor's land was taken away. One can only imagine the hardship experienced by Peter's family. Thankfully, legal action in November of 1796, gave Peter's land back to his rightful heirs.

Eleanor died on 20 June, 1818 in Maryland.

It isn't surprising to me that his grandsons, Jacob and Peter, left Maryland behind and headed for a new frontier in Ohio. I imagine them dreaming of new beginnings and I admire their courage and bravery. When I visit Jacob and Mary's gravesites, I think of how they must have struggled to build their new home here and how I'm glad that even a little bit of that DNA runs through my veins.




Christmas Past

This has been a difficult year in the life of my family. Like every year, we have experienced deaths of loved ones, various illnesses, job losses, and the like. But this year, we have also encountered the recent, unexpected break-up of two family marriages. Christmas this year is painful in many ways. Is it any wonder that we find comfort in looking back at what seems like a simpler time and place? This is a photograph of my mother and me in the house where I grew up. I was blessed with incredibly loving and supportive parents and two older brothers who were protective and with whom I usually got along. I'm sure that my parents had problems and worries like everyone does, but if they did, they certainly didn't show it. I can remember a Christmas when the employees of NCR, the company where my father was employed, went on strike and my parents had gone through all of their savings. My parents did everything they could to still provide us a merry Christmas. I am so grateful that my parents invested in movie and still cameras and that they documented those past Christmas mornings so fully. During times like these, it's good to look back and remember.

The Beginning


I guess it makes sense to begin my new Blog at the beginning! I began my journey through genealogy about 6 years ago. I was lucky because I already new the names of all my great grandparents so I had a place to start. Thanks to Ancestry's free trial period, I quickly located the census records of my grandparents and great grandparents. For the first time, I saw the names of my grandmother's aunts and uncles. I'm sure she had told me their names before, but I was too young then to appreciate the information she was giving me. Now, I couldn't get enough information. Each bit of information I found led me to something else; another name, another place. I started looking through anything I could find of my grandmother's. I found an old family Bible and inside it I found a picture of my great great grandfather in an advertisement for a kidney treatment! It was clearly the beginning of my addiction! I found an very inexpensive family tree software program that I quickly outgrew. I knew this because suddenly the family tree of Queen Victoria (the sample tree included with the program) became enmeshed into mine and I quickly discovered I had royal blood in my veins! For Christmas that year I received a gift card to a bookstore and while shopping I discovered a version of Family Tree Maker that included a free subscription to Ancestry.com. Eureka! The perfect present for a genealogy newbie! I was researching every branch of my family tree as well as my husband's all at the same time. I was quickly buried under stacks of papers, many of them still waiting to be filed into notebooks at this time. I discovered wonderful online resources and long distant cousins who have been more than willing to share information on their branch of my tree. In most cases, I have been able trace at least 6 generations of my past and sometimes more. Granted, in some cases, I am depending upon the research of those who have studied before me. But, I'm still working. Genealogy is a journey. There is always more to see; always another document to find. That's what I love about it!